Summerslam weekend is nearly upon us, and with WWE’s so-called “new era” growing more and more stale by the month, the company’s only saving grace is NXT. How does NXT get everything so right while the main roster continues to get everything so wrong? I can only assume it has something to do with the fact that people with actual wrestling knowledge are booking the shows, as opposed to a bunch of jabronis that wrote for those godawful daytime soap operas your grandma used to watch. Whatever the case, let’s break down the show that’s guaranteed to wipe the floor with Summerslam.
Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Almas
Preview: I wasn’t terribly impressed with Almas when he first arrived in NXT, but ever since turning heel, the original El Ingobernable has been killing it. Some guys are just born heels and Almas has finally come into his own thanks to this much needed change of character. Gargano on the other hand is poised to become one of NXT’s top babyfaces; his popularity was already through the roof, but coming off his recent betrayal at the hands of former tag team partner Tommaso Ciampa, the “Johnny Wrestling” chants are only getting louder. The wild card here is Almas’ recently acquired valet Zelina Vega; will she get involved in the match and if so, will it be to Almas’ benefit or detriment?
Prediction: Gargano needs the win in order to cement his place in NXT as a top singles star and Almas is such a good heel that he can stand to weather a loss here.
Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami
Preview: The enigmatic Aleister Black has quickly captured the imaginations of NXT fans the world over (yours truly included) but professional wrestling’s lord of the left hand path needs a good feud to truly test his mettle. Given his hard-hitting style, a rivalry with the equally smash-mouth Hideo Itami seems like the perfect way to better establish Black’s character in the eyes of fans. Itami’s recent heel turn is just what was needed to freshen up his character and he too could benefit from a long-term feud. I’m fully expecting this match to be the evening’s show-stealer and I’m hoping that it leads to a series of grueling matches between the the two most devastating strikers in the company.
Prediction: Itami could certainly use the upset win, but the company seems to be pretty high on Black (and with good reason) so I’m fully expecting Takeover to become a black mass.
NXT Tag Team Championship Match
The Authors of Pain (c) vs. Sanity
Preview: Uh, who am I supposed to be rooting for in this feud? Heel vs. heel matches tend to suck all the life out of an audience and I don’t really care for the idea of a face turn for either of these teams. That said, NXT’s tag team division is sorely lacking depth and Sanity have proven themselves to be a devastating faction thanks to their ability to cause total chaos whenever they hit the ring, so they’re the only logical choice to challenge AOP in spite of both teams being “the bad guys.” If NXT can pull off a believable face turn for either of these teams I’ll be more than happy to eat crow, but right now I just can’t see it.
Prediction: AOP have been dominant for quite a while now and Sanity have a numbers advantage, so look for Sanity to finally get the big title win they need to fully assert their dominance.
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
Preview: Asuka might be the greatest champion of the modern era. Regardless of the “beating Goldberg’s streak” nonsense, she has lead the way in terms of what it takes to be a great champion not just in NXT but the WWE as a whole. I’m not really a fan of how she’s been booked of late, because we all know that she’s one of the best wrestlers on the planet and doesn’t need to take shortcuts in the ring, so it seems a bit silly that she’d cheat to win instead of dishing out an ass kicking. Whatever the case, Ember Moon has been nipping at her heels for a while now and is the only wrestler in the women’s division that has a chance of defeating Asuka, with the possible exceptions of Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot.
Prediction: Moon is good, but Asuka is on a whole other level. Look for The Empress of Tomorrow to retain, unless they’re planning to move her to the main roster after Summerslam.
NXT Championship Match
Bobby Roode (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Preview: It’s nothing short of amazing how much Drew McIntyre has improved since returning to the company a few months back. In his time away from the ‘E, he morphed from a fairly average wrestler into a total bad ass and I have to admit I’m digging it. But the Scottish Dragon will have his hands full on Saturday with Bobby Roode, who is the best heel the WWE has seen in eons. Roode always seems to win in the most heelish and underhanded ways possible, and he’ll likely be pulling out every trick in the book to get past the physically imposing McIntyre. Both men possess a fairly traditional skill set, so I’m looking forward to the main event having an old school feel.
Prediction: As good as McIntyre is, I’m not quite sure he’s ready for a title run just yet. As NXT champ Roode has found ways to beat some of the best in the business (Shinsuke Nakamura, Hideo Itami, Roderick Strong, etc), so I’m expecting him to pull off another dastardly win. Besides, I think at this point we’re entitled to a Roode / McIntyre / Strong triple threat match.